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Opting out of a "big box" for Canal Side

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WBFO News photo by Avery Schneider
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Model of future waterfront

By Bert Gambini & Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-937419.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has tweaked its plans for the downtown Canal Side Project.

It has opted out of a "big box" store for the Canal Side project, after years of trying to lure Bass Pro into Buffalo. But after much public outcry, board members unanimously approved a revised development plan Monday.

Harbor Development Corporation chair Jordan Levy says the project is no longer about a big box retailer.

Micaela Shapiro-Shellaby is with the Coalition of Economic Justice. The organization is applauding the move.

"This is a step forward in terms of incorporating and bringing in the community, and opening up an authentic community engagement process. However, from the Canal Side Community Alliance prospective, while it answers some of the elements of the Community Benefits Agreement, it never addressed the community benefits agreement in its entirety. So we still feel, and we are still going to work toward negotiating a Community Benefits Agreement," said Sharpiro-Shellaby.

The Coalition for Economic Justice delivered 1,000 postcards signed by area residents to show overwhelming support for the creation of a Community Benefits Agreement.

Supports of a CBA say it would give the community a voice in planning at Canal Side and setup guidelines, including a living wage for future businesses along the waterfront.

The ECHDC board made other amendments to the Canal Side project including omitting construction of a parking garage.